eLEGS and ReWalk Technologies Demonstrated at Shepherd Center
Shepherd Center staff and patients were recently treated to live demonstrations of two new technologies that may provide enhanced mobility to people with spinal cord injuries and other conditions that affect the ability to walk.
Berkeley Bionics™ demonstrated the company’s new exoskeleton called eLEGS. It is a wearable, artificially intelligent, bionic device that assists users with standing and walking. Five years in development, the exoskeleton can be adjusted quickly to fit most people between 5 feet, 2 inches and 6 feet, 4 inches and weighing up to 220 pounds. Users must be able to self-transfer from their wheelchair.
An investigational study of eLEGS is scheduled to begin in early 2011 at select U.S. rehabilitation clinics, including Shepherd Center. A limited release of the device is scheduled for late 2011 at several rehabilitation facilities, including Shepherd. At that time, eligible patients will have the opportunity to enroll in a medically supervised eLEGS gait training program.
Also, Argo Medical Technologies demonstrated its ReWalk™ system – an upright walking assistance tool that enables wheelchair users with lower-limb disabilities to stand, walk and climb stairs. It is being studied at MossRehab in Elkins Park, Pa., and may become available to Shepherd patients in the future.
ReWalk is a walking device that consists of a robotic exoskeleten for the legs, a lightweight brace for the trunk and a rechargeable power pack. The device is worn around the legs and back and fits closely to the body on top of clothing. A concurrent use of forearm crutches stabilizes the upright user, who is able to independently power the device through an interface worn on the wrist and initiate movement and control the legs through simple body language.
“Exoskeletal robotic orthoses, like eLEGS and ReWalk, offer a method for increasing ambulatory ability in spinal cord-injured individuals for whom current rehabilitation methods are inadequate,” said Keith Tansey, M.D., Ph.D., director of spinal cord injury research at Shepherd Center. “At present, they represent ‘substitution’ as a means to greater functional ability, but may be used in the future to augment ‘restoration’ or neurological recovery.”
For more information on ReWalk, see www.argomedtec.com.
Shepherd Center, located in Atlanta, Georgia, is a private, not-for-profit hospital specializing in medical treatment, research and rehabilitation for people with spinal cord injury, brain injury, multiple sclerosis, spine and chronic pain, and other neuromuscular conditions. Founded in 1975, Shepherd Center is ranked by U.S. News & World Report among the top 10 rehabilitation hospitals in the nation. In its more than four decades, Shepherd Center has grown from a six-bed rehabilitation unit to a world-renowned, 152-bed hospital that treats more than 740 inpatients, nearly 280 day program patients and more than 7,100 outpatients each year in more than 46,000 visits.